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The Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks
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The Mind's Eye

by Oliver Sacks

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7563512,276 (3.69)28
Recently added bytoissavuonna, seite, private library, x_hoxha, antonzalesski, leoban, laura.aviva, Juliana.Brina
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    The Man Who Forgot How to Read: A Memoir by Howard Engel (SylviaC)
    SylviaC: The Mind's Eye includes a chapter about Howard Engel, and Oliver Sacks provides an afterword to The Man Who Forgot How to Read
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» See also 28 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
I liked this book. Oliver Sacks does what he does best: taking weird affections of the perceptual apparatus and connecting this with the people that have them, so that the end result is not medical (although it teaches medical things) and certainly no "freak show", but a series of portraits. I did think the book was a bit unbalanced - first a series of medical portraits like The Man Who Took his Wife for a Hat, then a personal and philosophical part more like A Leg to Stand on. All the same, well worth reading. ( )
  wester | Jun 2, 2014 |
This book was not as interesting to me as "The Man Who Thought His Wife Was a Hat". Probably because this was somewhat more a scientific book. I felt the Mr. Sacks spent too much time on his own condition. Perhaps I took exception to that particular part of the book because my husband lost and eye and really didn't suffer much loss other than depth perception.
Not that that is not loss, but other than having to be careful of where his feet were, none of the other things seemed to bother him. (Because he is deceased, I cannot verify this.)
I thought the first third and last third of the book very interesting. ( )
  elsyd | Jun 1, 2014 |
With compassion and insight, Dr. Oliver Sacks again illuminates the mysteries of the brain by introducing us to some remarkable characters, including Pat, who remains a vivacious communicator despite the stroke that deprives her of speech, and Howard, a novelist who loses the ability to read. Sacks investigates those who can see perfectly well but are unable to recognize faces, even those of their own children. He describes totally blind people who navigate by touch and smell; and others who, ironically, become hyper-visual. Finally, he recounts his own battle with an eye tumor and the strange visual symptoms it caused. As he has done in classics like The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat and Awakenings, Dr. Sacks shows us that medicine is both an art and a science, and that our ability to imagine what it is to see with another person's mind is what makes us truly human.
  MarkBeronte | Mar 4, 2014 |
Not only does the cover read 'O liver sacks', but it's also rather interesting. Especially the last chapter. ( )
  DeFor | Nov 28, 2013 |
Blending, as he does, the individual story with the accompanying diagnostics and relevant medical and psychiatric or psychological studies is a formula that still works well for the perpetually, infectiously curious Dr. Sacks. This book concerns visual perception and visual imagery, which he clearly demonstrates to be different but related phenomena. The first half contains case histories involving loss or acquisition of visual faculties (from recognition to stereopsis), the second an autobiographical account of partial vision loss blended with reflections on the writings of authors who have lost most or all visual perception, and then a lengthy chapter on the - not connection, precisely - but highly individualized overlap of perception and mental imagery.

As a synthesis and exploration of the ideas of perception - direct and mediated - and ideation of visual imagery, the book is successful. As a provoker of thought written at a level accessible to any curious reader, it is (as always with Dr. Sacks) successful. There were, however, two glaring oversights.

In a book with so much discussion of stereopsis, including mention of the curious research showing that numerous, highly successful artists such as Rembrandt, Homer, Hopper, and others had eye alignments such that stereo vision would have been impossible for them, indeed in a book in which Dr. Sacks describes in one footnote a sensation of seeing the world as through a camera lucida once he lost central vision in one eye, he makes no analysis of the use of the camera lucida by artists such as Vermeer. Johannes Vermeer used the device to 'flatten' images he wished to paint, allowing him to render all the monocularly available clues about spatial relations (shading, perspective, etc) without the distortions introduced by his own stereoscopic vision; this is part of what gives his work its startlingly realistic, almost photographically accurate, quality. That he used a device to render his world in a way that allowed him to produce physical representations of what the mind's eye could envision using the device should, one would think, be immediately relevant in a book discussion the acquisition and loss of stereopsis, the way in which stereoscopic vision or lack of it affects mental imagery, and, for that matter, as the other side of Dr. Sacks' own lengthily discussed delight in stereoscopes, the device designed to provide the opposite effect to that of the camera lucida: the illusion of depth created by presenting the eye with two flat images that the brain fuses into one image containing depth.

The other trouble with this otherwise excellent book arrived with the last sentence, which blindsides the reader in much the same way that Dr. Sacks described the half-blind being startled by the arrival of people and objects moving into the field of view from the blind side. Eyes, occipital lobes, parietal lobes, fMRI studies, case histories, retinas, nerves, atrophy, corrective surgery, the descriptions of visual imagery or the loss of it among those who become blind, the descriptions of perceptive ranges available to the congenitally or early-blinded... and the last sentence is about language?

The sentence is powerful enough to merit a book on its own. It is not unrelated to earlier portions of the text, such as the first chapter, which described a case of alexia sine agraphia. It is not, however, preceded by a discussion that truly synthesizes the multiple narratives of blindness, the letters Dr. Sacks exchanged with a patient who acquired stereopsis in middle age, his own act of journaling about his partial vision loss, the necessary language components of the psychological and neurological studies of mental visualization (it is necessary to ask subjects, verbally, to visualize specific or categorical things to achieve fMRI images of activity in the parietal lobes associated with the activity of the "mind's eye"), toward the goal of the extraordinary statement that "Language, that most human invention, can enable what, in principle, should not be possible. It can allow all of us, even the congenitally blind, to see with another person’s eyes."

The book as a whole is as delightfully observant, insightful, humble, funny, and striking as the extraordinary oeuvre of Dr. Sacks would lead the reader to expect. One is left, however, with the strange sensation that one eye was covered with regard to tools for monocular versus binocular vision, and that both eyes were suddenly cured of some kind of macular or glaucomal disturbance at the last moment in order to see a point that, crucial as it is to the understanding of the "mind's eye" as opposed to the brain's, should have shone through the entirety of the text - foreshadowed, as it were, to prepare one for the dimension of this conclusion. ( )
  Nialle | Aug 20, 2013 |
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Mr. Brain can be a demon from hell when it decides to turn against its body.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307272087, Hardcover)

In The Mind’s Eye, Oliver Sacks tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities: the power of speech, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, the sense of sight. For all of these people, the challenge is to adapt to a radically new way of being in the world.

There is Lilian, a concert pianist who becomes unable to read music and is eventually unable even to recognize everyday objects, and Sue, a neurobiologist who has never seen in three dimensions, until she suddenly acquires stereoscopic vision in her fifties.

There is Pat, who reinvents herself as a loving grandmother and active member of her community, despite the fact that she has aphasia and cannot utter a sentence, and Howard, a prolific novelist who must find a way to continue his life as a writer even after a stroke destroys his ability to read.

And there is Dr. Sacks himself, who tells the story of his own eye cancer and the bizarre and disconcerting effects of losing vision to one side.

Sacks explores some very strange paradoxes—people who can see perfectly well but cannot recognize their own children, and blind people who become hyper-visual or who navigate by “tongue vision.” He also considers more fundamental questions: How do we see? How do we think? How important is internal imagery—or vision, for that matter? Why is it that, although writing is only five thousand years old, humans have a universal, seemingly innate, potential for reading?

The Mind’s Eye
is a testament to the complexity of vision and the brain and to the power of creativity and adaptation. And it provides a whole new perspective on the power of language and communication, as we try to imagine what it is to see with another person’s eyes, or another person’s mind.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:26 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Includes stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and faculties: the power of speech, the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, and the sense of sight. This book is a testament to the complexity of vision and the brain and to the power of creativity and adaptation, and it provides a whole new perspective on the power of language and communication, as we try to imagine what it is to perceive through another person's eyes, or another person's mind.… (more)

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